Message from Fr. Peter Andronache
We finish Great Lent with the Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt. She is, in many ways, the perfect example of repentance and a great hope for each of us. When Fr. Zosimas finds her in the desert, she tells him her life story and confesses that she sinned simply because she liked the sin. She was enslaved and consumed by it, but she was not outside of God’s love and mercy. He reached out and prevented her from venerating the wood of the Cross and St. Mary, in that one interaction with God, found repentance.
By the time Fr. Zosimas found her, she had spent many years in the desert, in ascetic struggle and prayer. She had come to know God, to be close to Him, and He revealed both His glory and the holiness of the saint by allowing Fr. Zosimas to see Mary lifted from the ground in prayer.
St. John the Baptist told those who came to him to “bring forth fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:8). For St. Mary, the fruit was a life spent in the desert, a life of struggling against the memories which she had acquired in the sins of her youth. It was a hard struggle, but the greatness of her repentance overcame the greatness of the sins. And it was the totality of her repentance, the struggle that she undertook with mind, body, and soul, that finally brought her to the peace of God, which she describes as “a calm and sweet light.”
The fruit of repentance, then, is visible: it is a change in the way of life, a reorientation of everything in a person’s life towards God and His kingdom. In the case of St. Mary, this involved a lifetime in the desert. That is, quite obviously, not a calling for everyone. However, St. Mary’s repentance, her dedication, her struggle, and her awareness of the love and mercy of God even through the most difficult moments of her life in the scorching sun and freezing nights, all these are things that apply just as much to our lives in the world as they did to her life in the desert.
Let us remember this great saint of our church and hold her example dear in our hearts, for in her we can find side by side God’s great mercy and a human being’s great love and dedication to the Lord. Holy mother Mary, pray to God for us.
With love in Christ,